written early Monday morning…

Dad and Mom

Mom and Dad had a much-needed quiet day at home.  They are both understandably exhausted.  Just over a week has passed since last Saturday when I drove Dad home from his two-night stay at the hospital.  Since then Hospice care began, Howard and his family arrived from Minnesota, Robin arrived from Tennessee, the kitchen floor was ripped up and new flooring installed (Dad insisted), Dad’s older brother Keith came from Nebraska for a visit with his daughter.  Carl (Dad’s brother) and his wife (my aunt MaryJane) arrived.  Meetings were held in our home with the funeral home director.  Documents were signed.  A washing machine leaked into the basement.  Meals were given by friends and appreciated by my family.  A skit was performed by the grandchildren and their new friends (my boyfriend’s children).    Rounds of nausea, pain, and itching skin (a condition of jaundice) are being controlled with carefully recorded medications.  Stories have been woven with laughter and tears.

Ali, Kiera, Sami, Chloe, Jake - putting on a skit for grandpa

The most difficult moments lately are the “goodbyes.”   Saturday at noon, Keith left for the airport under Lacy’s close watch looking somehow smaller than when he arrived; his blue eyes soft with sadness.  Later the same day – Howard, Tiffany and the girls drove away sobbing after homemade cards were given to grandpa, photos were taken and hugs shared in a tangle of oxygen and IV cords.  Yesterday Carl and MaryJane left for Nebraska after we shared a scrumptious ham dinner and apple pie prepared by friends.
Tomorrow Dad’s brothers Loyal and Don will arrive from Nebraska along with his sister Virginia and her husband.  My father (somewhere in the middle of seven siblings) is the first to face this transition.  Dad is in a medical records journal for being one of only two Americans to survive three separate polio attacks as a child.  Told he would never walk, Dad won seven out of eight track events in 8th grade.  Known for his orneriness, Dad is one tough bugger – the reality and disbelief of recent days have a tight grip on his family. His spunk and spirit spit sparks from deep blue eyes; radiant in the photos taken even while his body shrinks and his skin yellows.
Using his walker, Dad made it outside and down some steps to his shop where he gave two proud tours of his impressive collection of ashtrays.  He sleeps a lot.  The nurse Eddie increased his pain meds today but they are still less-than-half what Dad is allowed at this point. Mother is frazzled but holding up.
Me?  Awake. Very much awake. The train I drove by early yesterday morning in a darkened canyon under a gray sky seemed somehow brighter than usual.  Like the spring landscape my heart feels open, raw, tender, strong – patches of snow in-congruent with the budding spring wildflowers – a tumultuous mish mash of rain, snow, sun, snow, sleet, sun, gray skies, soft pink sunsets, sunshine and more rain.
Thank-you for keeping us in  your thoughts and prayers.